Page 4194 - Week 12 - Tuesday, 24 October 2017

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Manuka is, in essence, the default capital of the inner south. It is the only place in the inner south where you can go to the cinema or have access to a full-line supermarket, currently, and the only place in the inner south where you can visit a branch of each of the four major banks. These services, stores and vital entertainment facilities are for all Canberrans. Although Mr Eastaway is able to currently drive, many of his neighbours in Deakin are no longer able to do so and find themselves isolated or with a heavy reliance on kind-hearted and time-rich friends to take them to Manuka. Mr Eastaway acknowledges that, in time, he may also find himself in that position.

Deakin has a high proportion of older Canberrans, and the need to go to Manuka on a regular basis is there because of the availability of the services I mentioned earlier. Public transport is a key issue for older Canberrans who cannot drive and still need to be able to access those services.

For a government that boasts about its commitment to public transport, its refusal to acknowledge a direct service between Deakin and Manuka as necessary shows a lack of ignorance and consultation with the residents who need it most. As it stands, under the current bus network a resident of The Grange in Deakin would have to catch either the No 2 or 3 bus from Macgregor Street, alight at the Barton bus station, a nine to 10-minute almost four-kilometre journey, cross National Circuit on foot, and, as only the No 6 bus travels to Manuka from Barton bus station, would have to catch the No 6 bus back in the other direction, alight again at Captain Cook Crescent, an eight to 10-minute almost three-kilometre journey, and cross Captain Cook Crescent on foot to get to the Manuka shops.

This is a journey which could be as little as six minutes and 3.3 kilometres in distance but instead takes two buses between 20 and 25 minutes and is almost seven kilometres. That is twice as many buses, more than double the distance and four times as long in time. It is also possible for passengers to alight on National Circuit in Forrest, but there they are then met with a one-kilometre walk from their bus stop to the shops. This problem is magnified on their return trip from Manuka, most likely weighed down by their shopping, when they must wait for one of the significantly less frequent suburban buses to get home. For many residents this inconvenience impacts on their livelihood and ability to access essential services.

It is not just older Canberrans who would benefit from a direct bus service between Deakin and Manuka and Kingston. Younger Canberrans who cannot afford to drive or pay for parking, and even patrons of the Manuka night-life who want the freedom to have a few drinks, will all likely benefit from improved public bus interconnectivity in the inner south. The lack of these direct services, coupled with the recent changes to the timetable which saw Narrabundah residents lose out on the popular No 5 bus, sees many inner south residents having more and more services cut whilst their rates go up and up.

The government’s steady decrease of bus connections in south Canberra is a disappointment for inner south residents. Whilst the petition is just shy of the 500 signatures required for the issue to be considered by an Assembly committee, I do hope that the minister nevertheless considers it a serious issue that is worthy of some

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